Following Shades Creek for its entire length, the Lakeshore Trail is a wide, paved path that runs through a floodplain. There is plenty of shade, which in the summer helps keep the trail cooler than some of the other family biking locations in town. Plus, there’s the added benefit of ice cream and cool drinks options when you get back to the car.
Minimal auto traffic means you can relax and give the kids some freedom to pedal ahead on their own. They’ll enjoy exploring the creek at one of the many access points along the way, and if you look closely, you may even see a bass or two hiding out under the opposite bank.
What Makes It Great
The Lakeshore Trail is an ideal place to take the family for a leisurely pedal on this out-and-back, two-way paved path. Even though it’s about as safe as can be, please remember to teach the kids to stay on their side of the yellow line in order to avoid head-ons with trail users going the opposite direction. Because of its popularity and convenient location, the trail can sometimes be crowded walkers, runners, bikes and leashed dogs. Though it may get a little cramped, the visitors are courteous and respectful to both the trail and the other visitors.
The end of the trail has a water fountain just before the trail dips under an overpass and ends on the sidewalk. A full out-and-back totals 5.2 miles with almost no elevation. Sometimes you might get lucky and the facilities will be open at the soccer fields at the far end of the trail, but to be safe don’t count on any restrooms until you get back to the starting point. This is a great way to take a break from the city without actually leaving the city. Make a quick trip or follow the trail to the end and back. Whichever you prefer, Lakeshore Trail will be a fun way to get outside and breathe sweet, fresh air.
Who is Going to Love It
The Lakeshore trail is safe for solo visitors or families. Hitch up a child bike trailer or hook up a child carrier on the back of your bike and take off. Bring your kids’ bikes and take them for a thrill ride. Or gear up and get some exercise to prepare for your next cycling event. This is a trail that is sure to please pros looking for a quick, convenient ride and for families looking for some refreshing exercise outdoors. Because this trail is dog-friendly, take your well-behaved pup alongside on a leash and let those noses and paws explore a change of scenery.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Luckily, access to this trail is free. Even better -- it is easy to get to. From I65 South, take exit 255 toward Lakeshore Drive. After about half a mile, take a left onto W Lakeshore Drive/Lakeshore Parkway. You’ll see signs for Samford University. Follow W Lakeshore Drive for another half mile, then turn right onto Columbiana Road and choose any nearby parking area as your starting point.